The three essential factors on which the accomplishment of the Dharma depends are: to meet with a qualified teacher; by receiving the instructions, to cultivate the correct attitude; and finally, to have the necessary material conditions.
If we do not follow a genuine master, we will never know how to practice the teachings. If the Buddha had not turned the Wheel of Dharma, we should not know what actions we should do and what actions we should refrain from. How can we, who have not had the fortune to meet the Buddha in person, practice the path of liberation if we do not follow a master? How else could we recognize paths which are mistaken and inferior? Moreover, just as we treat stiff leather with oil to make it smooth and supple, so too we should practice the teachings correctly, with a calm and docile attitude, undisturbed by afflictive emotions. Finally, living in the realm of desire, as we do, we find it impossible to practice the Dharma if we lack food to fill our stomachs and clothes to cover us against the wind.
If we have these three essential factors complete we should be happy at the thought that we have all that is necessary to practice the teachings. It is as though we have been equipped with a good horse for an uphill journey â€“ the way will be without difficulty. And we should pray that all beings might be just as fortunate.
If, however, we do not possess all of these essential factors, we should reflect that though we have entered the Buddhadharma and received plenty of teachings and instructions, we still lack the conditions suitable for practice.
As a matter of fact, there are many disciples who are unable to practice properly because of this shortcoming. They have what is known as ‘good karma going wrong.’ As was explained before, ‘Old yogis getting rich; old teachers getting married.’ We should feel sorry for such people and pray from our hearts that the cause of their not having such favorable conditions might ripen on us and that, as a result, their situation might be improved.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
from the book Enlightened Courage: An Explanation of the Seven-Point Mind Training
translated by Padmakara Translation Group
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Further quotes from the book Enlightened Courage:
- Antidote to our ego-clinging
- Anger is an illusion
- Signs of realization
- Well rewarded
- Forsaking all self-centeredness
- The degree of self-clinging
- Failing to use the instructions as an antidote
- Morning pledge
- Bodhicitta practice
- Taking advantage of suffering
- Honest examination
- The vows of the Mind Training
- Give up hoping for results
- All Dharma has a single goal
- Begin the training sequence with yourself
- Using illness on the path
- The impurity of our perception
- Always be sustained by cheerfulness